WATCH|Yair Sarmiento thought life on the streets was all he had. He got recognition from neighborhood kids for turning tagging into art, but never thought of art as a career until he found the non profit HOLA, Heart of Los Angeles, which offers free enrichment to underprivileged children.
Yair didn't receive any formal art training until 2011 when he met HOLA's Art Director Nara Hernandez. He says when she became his art mentor she taught him to appreciate his own potential and changed his life direction.
Yair is now the first in his family to attend college. He received three full scholarships to attend Art Center, and is earning his A.A. in Sign Graphics at Los Angeles Trade Tech.
Art education got Yair off the streets, and now he wants to pay it forward. He recently joined HOLA as an Artist Mentor in Residence where he mentors HOLA youth in the arts, creates and shares artwork or ideas about community arts practice.
Here's a look at the work he did for Snoop Dogg, and some pictures of the mural he made for the Staples Center. Also, some of his earlier work when graffiti was his only form of art expression.
Heart of Los Angeles, known as HOLA, provides underserved youth with free, exceptional programs in academics, arts and athletics within a nurturing environment, empowering them to develop their potential, pursue their education and strengthen their communities.
Their goal is to help as many students like Yair, find their true potential. They're run completely on donations and with the help of many volunteers.
In addition to visual arts and video and academics, there is a youth orchestra at HOLA referred to as YOLA. Here's a look at a week one of the program donated to neighborhood children.
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This story also takes a look at graffiti art in Austin, Texas. There, an arena-sized graffiti park serves as an outdoor gallery for future street artists.
In Los Angeles, our team also followed a man whose job is to go out every morning and paint over gang tags.